Huang & Van Horne Four E Entrepreneurship Policy Framework and Key Recommendations

This post provide a condensed exert from the GEM UAE 2011 Report and is copyrighted material of the authors of the report. It can be downloaded here: UAE 2011 GEM Report

If you would like to quote the report or this blogpost please use the following details: 

Van Horne, C., Huang, V., and Al Awad, M. 2012. “UAE GEM Report 2011”, Zayed University, UAE

This year the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2011 UAE report presents the Huang & Van Horne Four E Entrepreneurship Policy Framework. This model is based on the assumption that entrepreneurship is the intersection of enterprising individuals and the availability of opportunity.

Huang & Van Horne 4 E Entrepreneurship Framework 

There are four interconnected components which support entrepreneurs and the opportunities they have recognized, from the birth of their ideas to scaling up and going global with successful products and services.

Education is at the heart of giving future entrepreneurs the confidence to make the leap, make wise decisions and to know where to go for guidance and assistance. It can also help build an entrepreneurial mindset in individuals, who might have ideas – but fear the unknown. Education about entrepreneurship helps reduce fear by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and skills needed to bring dreams to life.

Ecosystem is the supporting infrastructure in which an entrepreneur operates. Regulations, licensing processes, incubation centres, banks, capital markets, and universities, all support entrepreneurs taking maximum advantage out of opportunities.

Export and looking outside of national and regional borders for ideas, for customers and suppliers is essential in a small market such as the UAE. Taking advantage of the unique geographical and demographic makeup of the UAE can give entrepreneurs operating here an edge over international competition.

Enthusiasm is all about supporting the passion that makes an entrepreneur tick. Being a successful entrepreneur means overcoming frustrations and putting in the long hours necessary to transform dreams into reality.

The following are recommendations and action steps that can be taken by policy makers to develop a coherent strategic entrepreneurial policy framework to support a diversified, innovative and competitive economy.


•           Link knowledge creation and venture creation to speed the conversion of ideas into market-ready enterprises. Government as well as large business conglomerates need to invest in research and development activities, building industry-university collaboration through government facilitated and funded applied research project.

•           Improve the match between education and employment opportunities. Develop a job-ready workforce through various levels of education opportunities, training, and apprenticeships as well as other education-industry links, including new structures for schooling. Entrepreneurship ecosystems must contain the skills competitive enterprises need to grow and prosper and must connect people with opportunities to gain those skills.

•           Inject entrepreneurial mindset and behavior into national/regional curriculum at all levels - primary, secondary, vocational, higher education and non-formal education and training, alongside integration of profession-based teaching and learning in all disciplines and curriculum.

•           Encourage UAE youth to acquire some level of entrepreneurial experience before leaving secondary school either as a formal part of the curriculum or as an extra-curricular activity that is overseen by the school or a non-formal education body.


•           Establish or invest in institutions that are sources of enduring strength, including centers of innovation zones, technology transfer (such as MASDAR, KUSTAR), knowledge creation, university based incubators or innovation academy, apprenticeships, and high-quality education linked to long-term human capital development.

•           Support integrated and coordinated solutions that direct resources to regional coalitions, initiatives, programs and public-private partnerships with coherent strategies, such as small company mentoring or ties between established businesses, corporate social responsibility projects and higher education institutions.

•           Review current small business regulatory environment against international best practices. Stringent immigration related labor regulations coupled with the current regulatory system negatively affect the number of high-impact entrepreneurs. This is an important point for policy makers to note because these entrepreneurs contribute greatly to job creation.

•           Develop strategies that improve the flexibility of labor, communications and market openness while eliminating bureaucracy and invariability of business start-up process across different Emirates, which will contribute to a more entrepreneurially-focused business environment.

•           Mediate the connection between small and large enterprises to promote the growth and success of SMEs in the UAE and revitalize large corporations through partnerships with innovative SMEs. When a small business becomes a corporate supplier, it can experience significant growth. For large companies, increased supplier capabilities could lower costs, improve performance, and simplify its supply chain.

•           Foster an efficient private and public mechanism for entrepreneurship finance. Governments can overcome finance and knowledge gaps through increasing the availability of financial and informational resources. Policies aimed at the development of a venture capital market, direct financial support and the knowledge base can be increased through access to capital market and dedicated small business finance schemes


•           Build a holistic international export strategy by facilitating collaborations through strengthened partnership with rapidly advancing economies (i.e. BRICS countries), as well as building a government led SME cooperation platform and policy to deepen existing strong UAE trading partners such as China, Japan and South Korea.

•           Improve the information and advisory network (accountants, lawyers, investors, etc.) of start-up business owners with more than one stakeholder about their position towards each other, support and resources available. Policy makers have a role to play in defining the growing and competitive markets for the future in UAE and invest in small businesses to penetrate those markets.

•           Develop a dynamic, international competitive human capital strategy to attract and retain highly qualified talent in the UAE. Mobility and diversity of human capital are often key ingredients to enhanced global trade and internationalization. As one of the most international oriented, culturally diversified nation in the world, UAE is yet to reach its full potential.


•           Create energy for making positive social changes through entrepreneurship, facilitated by media attention, events, and awareness campaigns. Entrepreneurship is not a heroic act of a few individuals, but the accomplishments of many people who pursue their ambitions in a supportive cultural and institutional environment. GEM global data reveal that cultures which reward hard work and creativity, rather than social and personal connections, will encourage entrepreneurial development.

•           Develop a program for Emirati government employees to take an entrepreneurship leave, similar to an education leave, to reduce the high level of risk associated with leaving a secure and well-paid government job to start a new venture. A certain number of employees could even be provided with office space and basic support to incubate their ventures.  This type of sabbatical program can also be applied by the private sector which can also develop programs to incentivize and recognize innovation and entrepreneurial pursuits.

•           Identify and reward excellence, invest in the best ideas, and spread institutional innovations. National competitiveness requires the unique capabilities and involvement of organizations in collaborations that produce innovative solutions and businesses. Intrapreneurship training and initiatives (such as a short-term career break to pursue entrepreneurial venture for public sector employees) should be encouraged and launched. Leaders tomorrow can be institutional innovators.

•           Connect business, education, social leaders across different sectors to develop regional strategies and produce scalable models that build on local assets, capabilities, and attract new investment. Ecosystems are inherently local. In each emirate, city or cluster, government organizations together with educational institutes, community, social groups - must come together to enrich the ecosystem.


Youth Entrepreneurship in the UAE: Results of the GEM UAE 2011 Report

This post provides a condensed exert from the GEM UAE 2011 Report and is copyrighted material of the authors of the report. It can be downloaded here: UAE 2011 GEM Report

If you would like to quote the report or this blogpost please use the following details: 

Van Horne, C., Huang, V., and Al Awad, M. 2012. “UAE GEM Report 2011”, Zayed University, UAE

Youth are seen as the greatest potential resource in the Arab world, with 30% of the population between the ages of 15-24. However, unless these youth are able to find and sustain gainful employment this resource could turn into a drag on economic and social development, instead of the rich source of new ideas and energy. The UAE, in particular amongst the local Emirati population, has a large portion of its population under aged 20, and recent statistics indicate that there are high levels of unemployment amongst the young population, reaching 25%.

In the 2011 UAE GEM Report, the percentage of youth who expect to start a new venture in the next three years sharply declined from 2009. This mirrors the results of both the total adult population survey and the Emirati population (Table 1). The lowered intentions of youth to form new businesses should not be attributed to self-perceived business start-up skills, as the perception of their skills remains high and far exceed the levels seen in other innovation driven economies. There is a need to better engage the youth in new ways to better inspire a more entrepreneurial and innovative mindset as youth are a critical contributor to attaining sustainable economic development.

Expects to Start-up in the next 3 Years
Skills Perception

18-24 years
25-34 years
18-24 years
25-34 years

With government employment opportunities reaching saturation and low participation in the private sector, entrepreneurship opens up many possibilities for a dynamic and energetic part of the population.
It is highly critical therefore, to nurture entrepreneurial skills at an earlier stage by integrating entrepreneurship into the education system particularly at the primary and secondary levels.  Of course, this would require academic institutions to adopt the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and qualify their teaching staff to better engage the youth in a meaningful way as they strive to prepare a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders.

It is hard to envision a prosperous and dynamic entrepreneurship ecosystem without a strong education, training system that prepares UAE youth for productive and self-sufficient lives. Entrepreneurship and education cannot be separated as the essence of entrepreneurship comprised of skill-sets that could be learned and taught through education, the UAE government has actively supported several educational reforms, strategies, and models in the past five years.

Some of these initiatives translated into great success, for example, the Injaz-UAE connects corporate volunteers to mentor youth (ages 11-24) through its programs, which prepare students to enter the world of work and succeed through interactive, impactful and practical mentoring sessions. Volunteers undergo an orientation and training before they start their experience to enhance their mentoring sessions and readiness to inspire youth. To-date, INJAZ-UAE has reached 15,000 students since 2005, through 1,500 volunteers at 43 schools and universities - and growing.

Another important initiative of the UAE to support the development of youth is the newly launched Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, which aims to empower, inspire and guide the youth of the UAE.  Initiatives are focused on Social Inclusion, Leadership and Empowerment and Community Engagement. Most notably is the successful Takatof program which trains volunteers for community events and local institutions. This program trains and provides skills to young people to better prepare them for the future.

In the Emirate of Dubai, the Young Entrepreneur Competition is an annual initiative by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders and is targeted at young Emiratis who have a business idea and wish to develop it. The program runs over two months and allows young people to learn the basic skills of the entrepreneurial process and culminates with the young entrepreneurs selling their products in individual stalls setup in one of the leading malls, providing youth with hands on experience in an entrepreneurial endeavour.

There are also youth led initiatives such as The Zayed University Entrepreneur Club (ZUEC) – a true exemplar of a student-led entrepreneurship initiative, which was founded by students at Zayed University, with campuses in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, aimed at inspiring and stimulating interest in entrepreneurship among Emiratis youth. Officially launched in the fall of 2011 with support of Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi government investment company, the ZUEC provides a conduit by which students can access entrepreneurial tools & resources, network opportunities with community entrepreneurs, and chance to share ideas. The Entrepreneurship Club is dedicated to furthering understanding about new and small businesses.

At Abu Dhabi University, the Entrepreneurship Incubator has been set up with the aim is aimed at supporting innovation and growth for new businesses in the UAE. The University cooperates with Khalifa Fund, as well as public and private business sectors in order to develop a real enterprise culture across the university and to provide immediate support and encouragement to all those who are able to potentially create new businesses in the future. 

Other examples of university based entrepreneurship activities include: Khalifa University Etisalat BT Innovation center, and the American University of Sharjah’s Start-up weekend, and HCT.


A review of Al Bidiya Mosque: a visual essay by Marco Sosa

Back cover of book

*UPDATED AGAIN* Marco's images are now available on ARCHNET, an MIT website for researchers and practitioners of architecture. You can access the photos and rich infomration about the site here: Jami' al-Bidiya Badiyah, United Arab Emirates

*UPDATE* Please watch the video from the official book launch to know more about the research process and how Marco got this amazing project from initial idea to amazing final result:

I work with some pretty amazing people.  I count myself lucky that I have been blessed with wonderful students and colleagues with talents and passion for teaching that amaze me daily.  I need to share with you a recently published book by just such a colleague, and friend, Marco Sosa.

Front cover of Marco's book (available at MacGrudy's!)
Marco started this project almost three years ago. As a working architect/artist before coming to teach Design at Zayed University in September 2009 he was looking to show students what architecture was - and how it can have a major impact as something we live, pray or work in - but also as a symbol, of our heritage, culture and religion.

He heard about Al Bidiya mosque and decided to investigate himself. He went to visit and had to know more.. and knowing more for a researcher means learning more, discovering more and getting your hands dirty.

The research process involved many meetings and discussions with experts and reading about the mosque and about the region close to Dibba, where the mosque is located. In late spring 2010 he went to take the photographs of the mosque. And since then he has been working at bringing his photos to print.

Entrance - Marco Sosa
I would talk about his project with my students from the region and they were surprised that anyone would be interested... and yet Mr. Sosa was.  When my students saw the finished book they felt proud and mentioned that there should be a similar book about other archaeological sites around Dibba - such as the old houses in Watt and the old forts. They are going to use the book, and Marco as a reference and source for their Capstone projects about economic development in the Dibba region through eco-tourism. 

Al Bidiyia Mosque - Marco Sosa

Marco's Art & Design students had to same reaction to the project and to the book - we should do this too! We CAN do this too. They too are working on projects to capture their heritage through images and the written word.

All I can say is buy the book to feel the beauty of the mosque and to learn of the history of the mosque and the journey Marco took to realize his project from idea to realization. If you aren't in the UAE you can see a video of it here: Marco's video

This is the description of the book provided by Marco:

"The book provides a pictorial insight of the Al Bidiya Mosque in the Emirate of Al Fujairah,
United Arab Emirates. The publication aims to express the building’s importance as a
place of worship, as a living, working ‘vessel’ of historical, cultural and religious importance
in the UAE and provides a personal view of the mosque to the public, nationally and internationally.
The book uses black and white photography to capture the phenomenology of the place.
The book also contains an essay adding historical context by Dr. Ronald Hawker and an
artist conversation between the artist Marco Sosa and International sculptor Udo Rutschmann."

The description provided of course does the book justice - but it is not just a book. Marco has created something which will inspire students to look at their heritage in a new way, it will inspire and motivate them to take on the challenge of doing something similar (knowing they can ask Mr. Marco for guidance along the way).

Thank you Marco for this - we really all are proud of you for this beautiful piece of art.

A quiet corner - Marco Sosa


How blackberry lost its competitive advantage: An unscientific view from the UAE

I started using my Black Berry again (long story why I stopped using it) - and it got me to wondering why blackberry went from number 1 in the UAE to "I can't wait to get rid of my bb" in just two short years.

Of course, when I want wisdom from my students (and they are wise and speak with their very high disposable income), I ask them. So, on our mid-term one of the questions they could answer was about how blackberry lost its competitive advantage (I use blackberry and not RIM - but you all understand what I mean):

The question:

In November 2011 Blackberry phones made up over 50% of the smartphone market in the UAE. That is no longer the case. Competitive advantage can be built (and lost) using several different factors.  Please provide a brief definition of competitive advantage, list the different factors and briefly define each in your own words.  Then, please explain why and how Blackberry has LOST its competitive advantage in the UAE market. Use specific and real examples for each point and explain what you mean (don’t just list items).

Before I get to the answers, first a short refresher on competitive advantage: competitive advantage is simply being better than your competition - so you can sell more stuff, sell it for a higher price or be so awesome that people put themselves on waiting lists or travel 100s of km to buy your product or service.
Well, there is that - but nerdy researchers (like me in case you are new to this blog) look for patterns (patterns make us giddy) that explain the why of things. We always need to know why (yes, kind of like a three year old that is never satisfied with an answer...).
So, after looking at these patterns the simplest theory is that there are four ways to build competitive advantage in your organisation:
  • Quality
  • Responsiveness to customers
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation

So, where did BB go wrong? BBM used to be THE preferred means of communications even a few short months ago... now everyone has an iPhone and/or Galaxy and if they have BB it is just because they have so many contacts on it. The main issues for the students seem to be decreasing quality, a total disregard of customer's concerns, lack of new models and lack of innovation (so yeah, everything!)

First, students point out that the camera is better with iPhone and Galaxy, service is unreliable, it crashes easily and is not "secure" and they break easier than before (remember, this is not scientific, but an almost straight retelling of what they told me).

RIM does not listen to customers, "Biggest problem is not responding to customer needs and wants and the same defects are in each new version of the Black Berry - like the battery!". Another student said that BB does not have a system that fully connects with their customers (now RIM, if you think you do have such a service, uhmmm, I do not think it is working).

Lack of efficient system to have new versions of the phone (and again with no improvements on the major issues).... They blame that you laid off all those engineers to try to save money a few years ago (yeah, I might have something to do with that opinion).

Finally, and the biggest concern was a lack of innovative apps such as instagram and google maps... and they said that iPhone apps are just better - BB apps tend to be boring.

So there you have it - words of wisdom from my at the cutting edge of consumer electronics students ... Also, a word of warning to other businesses that think they have people locked into their products - sorry, if they feel ignored they will move on to a company that does not ignore them...

However, all that being said, they do not think I should get an iPhone... it is much too complicated for me :)